Apple told its office workers on Thursday that they would not need to return to their desks until January 2022 at the earliest, in the latest indication that the Delta variant has thrown a monkey wrench into white-collar America’s planned return to normalcy, or at least “normalcy.”
“Data, not dates, is what drives our approach for returning to the office,” the company said in its note to workers.
Like many companies, Apple had initially planned a return in September, back when it looked like the pandemic was well and truly coming to an end. (It had required workers to be in the office at least three days a week, a policy that drew some pushback.) The company then delayed that date until October. But with cases now reaching upward of 140,000 a day, and fairly common breakthrough infections, the company pivoted again.
The announcement follows several other similar ones from big tech companies; Amazon, Facebook, and Lyft have also delayed their plans until the beginning of next year. The tech companies were among the first to go remote in the early days of the pandemic, and are likely a bellwether for other industries in terms of the timing for a return.
As of now, Apple does not have a vaccine mandate in place for staff, unlike Facebook and Google. As with the rest of the business world, tech companies are taking different approaches to that issue; Intel is offering $250 to its workers if they get vaccinated.